ElderCare Beacon Newsletter
July 10, 2000 Vol. 3, No. 12
ElderCare Online The Internet Community of Elder Caregiversä
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Serving the Needs of Caregivers Since 1997
I finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. I am recovering from a wicked summer flu, so this newsletter is little late and a little short. For the last few years I have gotten a flu shot each October and it has served me well. I dont think I have been sick for one or two days in the last several years. So I highly recommend that you and your loved one get inoculated each fall, even if it doesnt last through the summer.
This will be the only newsletter issue for the month of July. It is usually a slow month online caregivers have their hands full with elderly loved ones AND children home from school. I will probably have a shortened publishing schedule in August since I will be taking a much-needed vacation out West to go hiking and camping in Montana and Idaho. But even if you dont receive a newsletter, please continue to come back to the website. We will continue to add numerous articles and features. I will probably send out a few quick updates rather than in-depth newsletters.
Next week I will be heading down to Washington, D.C. for the annual World Alzheimer Congress. This conference features 10 days (July 8-18) of discussions about research, professional competency and family caregiving issues. I will be attending with Nancy Bryce, one of ElderCare Onlines Contributing Editors, and we will be writing articles based on the topics presented at the conference. You can learn more about the conference and view webcasts on selected seminars by visiting the conference website at http://www.alzheimer2000.org.
Please note that we have an abbreviated discussion group schedule. Both Susan Grossman (ALZwell Tonight) and ZuZu will host their regular groups. However, I will not be able to host ElderCare Answers due to travel (see above). Please show your support for our hosts and join the discussions they are always informative and active. I will likely attend the sessions from my friends computer while I am on the road, so I will see you there!
INSIDE THIS ISSUE
ElderCare Online in the News: FamilyPC Magazine
ELDERCARE ONLINE IN THE NEWS: FamilyPC Magazine
Just a quick heads up on a comprehensive article regarding eldercare and the Internet in a recent article on FamilyPC magazines website. "An Online Guide to Caring for Aging Parents" by Carolyn Jabs discusses health, housing and support, among other key eldercare topics. ElderCare Online is noted as a resource to support caregivers and the site founder (Rich OBoyle) is quoted a few times regarding the importance of online support groups. The article includes links to some of the best eldercare sites on the Internet ones that are sure to make your list of bookmarks. Read the article at http://familypc.zdnet.com/familycentral/home/feature/elders/.
ELDERCARE FORUM: Intimacy and Alzheimers Disease
One of our most recent postings in the ElderCare Forum deals with a difficult topic for many spousal caregivers: intimacy when your spouse has Alzheimers Disease. Intimacy is an important part of our marital relations. However, as our loved one sinks deeper into dementia, they lose the complete understanding and appreciation for intimate behavior. Sexual activity may be lost all together or displayed inappropriately. For the caregiver the wellspouse there is a two-fold loss of a sexual partner and the pain of seeing your spouse lose their adult capacities.
Donnas recent posting in the ElderCare Forum is very personal. After seeing it in another Alzheimers discussion group, I asked her to share it with our community. I want to thank her for being honest and straight-forward about her personal challenge. I also think that you can support her by sharing your personal stories, encouragement or advice. Please dont hesitate to join the conversation. One caution: sometimes written words dont come across as we really mean them. So please reread your post before you send it, explain yourself if what you are saying is "on the edge" and respect each others privacy. All of us can grow from sharing our feelings on these very difficult topics.
You can join the discussion in the Alzheimers & Dementia Care section of the ElderCare Forum athttp://www.ec-online.net/cgi-bin/ubb/Ultimate.cgi?action=intro.
FEATURE ARTICLE: The 11th Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Parent Thy Parent
Did you know there were really eleven commandments? Most people who are familiar with the Judeo-Christian worldview recognize the first ten commandments, but not everyone has as much knowledge about the eleventh one, which has become more important as our society has aged. As many of you readers know, the original ten commandments are divided into the 5 shalts and the 5 shalt nots. One of them is clearly related to caregiving: Honor they father and mother. However, there seems to be considerable psychological confusion about how to do this, which has led to lots of articles and even a few books about a term that brings fear into the hearts of many caregivers: "Parenting your parent."
You can read the complete article in the Home Care & Independent Living Channel under "Family Dynamics" at http://www.ec-online.net/homechannel.htm.
ElderCare Onlines Contributing Editor Mark Edinberg is a psychologist, author, organizational consultant, and part-time jazz pianist who has been working in the field of Gerontology for 30 years. He has been a professor at the University of Nevada, Reno and the University of Bridgeport, for the last decade, and is in private practice primarily working with older adults and their families. Currently he maintains a private practice in Fairfield, CT, and consults with nursing homes, organizations and families on a range of topics. He teaches part-time at Fairfield University. Mark is an expert in Intergenerational Mediation working with families on matters ranging from health to asset transfers). He also works in the fields of sports psychology and organizational training. Mark is the author of three books, including "Talking with Your Aging Parents."
We have published a number of articles on Family Dynamics throughout the site. Check each channel for appropriate articles. What are your family challenges? Getting siblings to help? Avoiding dredging up old issues? Discussing sensitive topics? Let us know in the ElderCare Forum at http://www.ec-online.net/cgi-bin/ubb/Ultimate.cgi?action=intro.
CAREGIVING TIP: Removing the Smell of Urine
The persistent smell of urine or "that sick smell" can be a very unpleasant issue when you are caring for your loved one at home. If your loved one is in the middle or late stages of Alzheimers Disease or develops incontinence due to paralysis, stroke or other medical condition, you will likely encounter this problem at one time or another. Dont think that it is a reflection on you, that you "Cant keep a clean house" or arent keeping your loved ones room sanitary.
The best strategy for eliminating the smell of urine is to prevent accidents and to clean up immediately. A rubber or vinyl mattress liner is essential, as is a pad for your loved ones favorite chair. When you discover an accident, immediately remove the sheets and rinse them in cold water or launder them. Clean all bed pans, commodes and other aides immediately after use with household cleansers or vinegar and water.
With Alzheimers, you may find that your loved one is urinating inappropriately, in a potted plant or in a room other than the bathroom. Reorient your loved one, keep other doors closed and try to set a toileting schedule if that seems to work. Sometimes you do not discover an inappropriate toileting pattern until it has resulted in a serious staining or odor problem. In those cases, you should use commercially prepared cleansers.
It is best to use a heavy duty cleanser specifically intended for urine stains. Pet stores sell products that are intended to reduce the ammonia smell and kill bacteria. Use them according to directions. A veterinarian can obtain a product called Elimin-Odor, from Smith-Kline Beecham. Another product, Febreze, is available in supermarkets. If clothing or bedding has become soiled, you may add a cleanser such as Lestoil to the laundry. Always follow directions and make sure that the fabric is not delicate or susceptible to discoloration.
To keep a room smelling fresh, you might want to consider regularly vacuuming with a carpet freshener that is specifically intended for pet odors. A sprayable air freshener can be used occasionally to enhance the atmosphere. Many people are increasingly interested in the benefits of "aromatherapy." Certain fragrances can promote a sense of calm, relaxation, energy or arousal. There are now commercially available products such as spray air fresheners with those scents. Beware of "diffusers" that rely on a candle to heat an oil. They may be a fire hazard. For more information about aromatherapy, visit http://www.aromaweb.com/.
CAREGIVER SUPPORT NETWORK: Dorothy Womack Additions, Sheehan Addition
This month Dorothy Womack has added three new poems to her personal pages: "I Just Sorta Stood There," "Round Trip Ticket" and "In the Company of Orphans." These poems add to Dorothys impressive collection of inspirational writings. I encourage you to meditate on these poems and the others that she has to offer on her other webpages.
Pauline Sheehan added a light-hearted article to her personal pages called "De-Light Side: Spirit of Adventure." It is a short article that gives some fun ideas for a caregiver to take time out for him/herself. Be careful! Some of these suggestions might turn our to be entertaining and eye-opening.
The Caregiver Support Network includes access to the ElderCare Forum message board, links to the personal pages of our mentors, a directory of mailing list support groups and a link to "Ask Casey" a caregiving question. Visit the Dorothys and Paulines personal pages in the Caregiver Support Network at http://www.ec-online.net/Community/Activists/can.htm.
LIVE DISCUSSION GROUPS: Schedule for July
Please note that we have an abbreviated schedule for most of July. ElderCare Answers and a special guest session will resume in August. Please mark your calendars and attend!
July 12 (Wednesday 9:00PM to 11:00PM EST) "ALZWell Tonight:" Host Susan Grossman leads a self-help group for caregivers on the topic of "Alzheimers Proofing Your Home." The discussion will include tips on normal "child proofing" and items like shut off switches on the back of the stove, alerts at the door, etc.
July 13 (Thursday 9:00PM to 11:00PM EST) Host ZuZu leads a self-help group that emphasizes sharing experiences and best practices.
July 20 (Thursday 9:00PM to 11:00PM EST) Host ZuZu leads a self-help group that emphasizes sharing experiences and best practices.
July 26 (Wednesday 9:00PM to 11:00PM EST) "ALZWell Tonight:" Host Susan Grossman leads a self-help group for caregivers on the topic of "The Hard Questions and Decisions." Topics discussed will include feeding tubes, death at home, mortuaries, calling 911, etc.
Transcripts from previous discussion groups are posted in the ElderCare Community Center at http://www.ec-online.net/Community/communit.htm.
If you regularly attend an online support group or host one, please forward information on it to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you dont have a chatroom or website, but are interested in hosting a session on ElderCare Online, please fill out the Community Activist form at http://www.ec-online.net/forms/formactivist.htm.
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